Safeguarding your company’s information is one of the most important responsibilities that you have as a business owner. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to take the necessary precautions when it comes to keeping their data safe.
Below, we will explore tried-and-true methods that you can use to help defend against data loss and prevent complications from arising in the future.
What Is Considered Data Loss?
Interestingly, not everyone is sure about what data loss actually is. Although temporarily deleting a file might seem like data loss, it doesn’t quite fall into this category.
More specifically, data loss refers to a scenario in which information becomes permanently inaccessible. This could be due to deletion or corruption.
Regardless of the cause, the user is left in a situation where they can no longer interact with this data in any form.
What Are the Primary Threats to Data?
The first step to preventing data loss is understanding the primary threats to your company’s information. Although there is only a handful, each one has the potential to cause a significant disruption in your company’s performance.
Let’s explore a few of the most notable that you need to keep an eye on.
It should come as no surprise that malicious software is one of the primary risks that your company faces in terms of data loss. Even a single incident could result in widespread data inaccessibility.
Although malicious software is often used by cybercriminals to explicitly target a certain organization, there is a chance that your machines could inadvertently become infected. To elaborate, one of your employees may click a fraudulent link that they receive through a phishing email that was sent on a massive scale.
Afterward, you may later discover that spyware was installed onto the affected device that aimed to relay key information back to the hacker.
In many cases, this information can be notably difficult to remove from the machine. There is also always the risk that you will not discover the presence of the software until it is far too late.
A common scenario involves a hacker using ransomware in order to encrypt sensitive information. They then demand that you pay a ransom in the form of cryptocurrency so that the transaction is untraceable.
Failure to do so will often result in them leaving the data encrypted indefinitely. In most circumstances, you will never be able to access this information again in the future.
Unfortunately, hardware failure is not always preventable. Manufacturer defects, improper storage, and even relatively benign physical damage could all cause some form of hardware failure.
But, hard drives don’t always become immediately unusable once failure begins to occur. To elaborate, hardware sometimes exhibits an extensive failure process that gives you enough time to migrate your data to another device.
In general, you may be experiencing hardware failure if you notice any of the following:
- Overly slow performance when performing low-intensity tasks
- Frequent freezes or spontaneous crashes
- Unreasonably hot temperature
- Grinding, stuttering, or clicking sounds from the device
If you notice any of the signs, it’s imperative that you copy your data to another location as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a situation where the data loss that you experience could have been prevented.
This comes in the form of damage from natural disasters, spills, fires, etc.
Damage that occurs from spilled liquids is one of the most common ways that data loss occurs. This is particularly true if someone spills a soda onto a device, as these drinks contain harmful acids that could corrode the device’s essential components.
But, tapwater is capable of causing just as much damage.
As long as your devices are properly cared for and stored appropriately, the risk of this type of data loss can be significantly mitigated. This is particularly true when it comes to storing devices that have archived data.
Not every entrepreneur considers the risk that hardware theft poses to their organization. In reality, however, a single stolen laptop or external SSD could lead to prolonged issues.
More often than not, hardware theft occurs during a break-in. Criminals often target businesses that utilize a large number of computers since this equipment can be formatted and sold for a significant profit.
Hardware theft also occurs during business travel, and many people find that their laptops go missing after leaving them in their hotel room or car.
Unfortunately, the risk of this occurrence can become exacerbated if you have a large team of employees who use laptops for work obligations. This means that data loss could occur if any one of these individuals finds that their computers become compromised.
Not every situation that involves data loss has a complicated cause. Sometimes, it can all be traced to user error.
An employee may have accidentally deleted crucial information by mistake while removing old files from their computer. Or, they may have emptied the recycle bin without checking to ensure that only relevant data was placed within it.
Regardless of the cause, user error can result in just as many complications as the above scenarios.
What Are the Consequences of Data Loss?
Even mild data loss situations come with a large number of consequences. While your important information might not always fall into the wrong hands, your company may still need to put in a significant amount of work in order to reacquire this data.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common.
This is one of the primary risks of a data loss incident. Research has proven that even a short period of downtime can cost an organization tens of thousands of dollars.
For smaller companies, this may be a situation that is impossible to accommodate. It’s not uncommon for small businesses to temporarily close once they have experienced a large amount of data loss.
Additionally, downtime also causes a negative experience for your customers. During the period in which your business can operate, they will likely turn to competitors instead and may stay loyal to them in the future.
Depending on the industry that you work in, your company will need to meet certain standards. This is particularly true for businesses that work in the tech or healthcare space.
To clarify, let’s assume that you operate a clinic that manages a large amount of patient information. You are required by law to adhere to the regulations within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If you fail to do so, you could experience a number of fines and fees that can quickly accumulate.
But, you may also experience legal complications in the form of lawsuits. This commonly occurs when an organization fails to properly safeguard customer data.
If a data breach occurs and a patient was negatively impacted by it, they may file a lawsuit against you in order to acquire compensation.
Although often overlooked, performance hardships can easily occur from data loss. Most commonly, this results from a blow to your organization’s reputation.
If your audience discovers that your company experienced major data loss, they may begin to question whether or not you took the appropriate steps to protect your information (and by extension their information). In the future, they may opt to choose a competitor instead.
Other performance issues can occur if a hacker who compromises valuable trade secrets decides to sell them to your industry competitors. This is essentially a doomsday scenario for many businesses that don’t have an extensive presence within their industry.
Although this scenario is relatively uncommon, it can result in severe complications.
How Can I Prevent This From Happening?
Data loss comes with a large number of consequences that can be highly difficult to recover from. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t protect yourself. Consider the following steps when determining how to take action.
Establish a Disaster Recovery Plan
One of the most important methods you can implement when it comes to preventing data loss is establishing a disaster recovery plan. While this won’t outright prevent the loss of information from occurring, it can help you accommodate the situation far more smoothly.
When creating one for your organization, it’s imperative that you ensure your entire team is on the same page. Similarly, you should ensure that you are able to maintain power for your critical systems. This includes production equipment, network devices, and essential computing systems.
Otherwise, you might lose a large amount of information and find it impossible to recover.
It’s also recommended that you reassess your current disaster recovery plan periodically throughout the year. As time goes on, new cyber threats emerge that you may not have a sufficient defense against at the moment.
If your plan is well configured, though, you will likely only be required to make minor changes.
Vigilantly Control Access
As previously mentioned, user error is a common reason behind data loss. However, maintaining vigilant control over the access to certain information can serve as a powerful safeguard.
This is often implemented in the form of multifactor authentication. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, it refers to protecting sensitive information until the user is able to provide multiple forms of identification.
To elaborate, an employee at your business might need to scan their fingerprint in order to enter a room that contains certain devices. Then, they will need the appropriate password in order to access these devices.
An alternative situation could involve a user receiving an automatically generated security code after they attempt to log into a device or server. This code is sent to their work email and will expire after a short period of time, ensuring that it can’t be reused.
Integrating this level of access control within your organization can also help protect you against hackers.
Constantly Backup Your Information
Regardless of how efficient your disaster recovery plan is, there is still a large chance that you will experience data loss in certain situations. Fortunately, this becomes far less of an issue if you have access to recent data backups within your organization.
So, it’s in your best interest to archive key information on a regular basis. You can easily achieve this by scheduling data backups outside of business hours so that the process has no impact on your company’s productivity.
Work With a Professional
Although you may have the requisite tools to help prevent data loss on your own, not every organization knows how to use them properly. Working with a professional will ensure that you are quickly able to recognize problem areas and take the necessary action to improve upon them.
Additionally, you can receive valuable input from them that you can use to revamp your entire internal system. Afterward, you’ll find that your company is far better protected than it was previously. Keep this in mind when developing your strategy, as the benefits of doing so are invaluable.
Managing Data Loss Might Seem Complicated
Fortunately, the above information will help ensure that this process goes as smoothly as possible. From here, you will have no issue minimizing your risk of data loss and keeping your organization safe from the consequences associated with it.
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